The University of Alabama placenames collection, housed in the Department of Geography’s Map Library, contains materials pertaining to toponymic research for every state. However, the bulk of the collection comprises works pertaining to states east of the Mississippi River. Some important types of research materials housed at the Center include the following:
- Post Office Site Location Reports
- Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
- Cemetery censuses, lists and guidebooks
- Regional, state, county and local histories
- Gazetteers and onomastic dictionaries
- Road touring, cruising, river, trail and field guides
- Historical city, school and church directories
The Placenames Research Center also has a collection of the original files and manuscripts of the late Meredith “Pete” Burrill. Pete Burrill was an expert in the field of toponymic research and Director of the US Board on Geographic Names from 1943-1948. The collection contains personal correspondence, notes, and papers that span Burrill’s 40 year career at the Department of the Interior as a leading authority on federal geographic naming procedures. This collection provides interested scholars a chance to examine primary papers regarding national and international naming policies and practices during this critical time period in US history.
Other libraries which are physically located on the University of Alabama campus, including the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, The W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, The University of Alabama Library Annex, and The Sarah and Eric Rodgers Library for Science and Engineering, have materials relevant to toponymic research. The Geological Survey of Alabama Library, a state institution housed on the University of Alabama campus, also has relevant historical maps, field guides, and documents related to research.
All Placenames Research Center materials are non-circulating.